Friday, February 18, 2011

Vegas 8: Picasso

I had originally planned to dine at Charlie Trotter's but it disappeared. Then I had a reservation for Alex but it too disappeared. So Picasso sounded good. Not one of my top thousand painters but his paintings would not hurt my enjoyment of the food, I thought. I was right.
Amuse Bouche: too hot to comfortably do it as a shot. The quail egg overwhelmed the salmon, a bad idea. Long egg aftertaste I was unhappy about. It then took a while for the soup to kick in. I mistake mushroom for marshmallow. Both are good. Not great. The Campari in the cocktail balances the sweetness and really makes the soup. My server suggests a new pairing has been born. Back to the soup. I close my eyes to savour the duxelles and they are profoundly savoured. The purpose of taste A is to combine with taste B and create taste C. This works. The Campari cancels the marshmallows.
The shrimp are amazingly bland, with all those vegetables. They lack the intensity of the shrimp from Mix, but what doesn't? Cutting tomato and combining with the shrimp helps. The third shrimp is the best, covered with mushrooms. Exquisite mushroom aftertaste. When I opened my eyes I was astonished I was still here. I thought I'd gone to food heaven. What I thought were mushrooms were instead intricately prepared artichokes. I do love this vegetable. Later artichokes that taste just like potatoes. Wow.
With the turbot, the asparagus works. Not as soft as I'd prefer, but hot, with the hollandaise sauce and the jus, it's quite successful. The turbot and the asparagus create a tasty synthesis. Am I eating fish, vegetable or some creature Picasso has created with a fish head and an asparagus body? But much more enjoyable than one of his creations. I try the turbot without the asparagus and my tongue complains, "hey, where's the asparagus?" Last bite of fish soaked with hollandaise, profoundly buttery. I'm starting to get full on a rather small quantity of food. Must be all that butter. I feel I have to stop before I turn into the spirit of pleasure and float away. Desert items loom before me like giant Macy's balloons. The greatest reaction I had to anything here wasn't the ambiance which is delightful or any of the fine food, it was in the little book they gave me about the art on the walls. Picasso's son designed the room's carpet to match the colours from his dad's paintings, which were selected by his mom. The sheer inventiveness of Picasso and his whole family. Like Gagnaire's approach to the langoustine. Endlessly inventive, undeterred by constant failure. My server had promised me a little fruit plate and the key word little I took too seriously. Only the sabayon was good and light, made from grapefruit, lemon lime and egg whites. As I was leaving the restaurant, I told my server that it was my first time to eat turbot and he said it was in the same family as John Dory. I told him I had John prepared by Gagnaire on Tuesday night and he said Gagnaire was the best chef in Europe. I wonder what all those Spaniards think about that? Walking back to my hotel, I wondered if I was starting to OD on good food, and I still had Keller's cod to eat later that evening.


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